Once again we were reminded of the meaning of “Serenity.” A hand-painted, driftwood sign that greets us each time we make the 5-mile trip down the beach at low tide and arrive at New Dungeness Light Station, beams “Welcome to Serenity.” A second, similar sign pointing in the direction from which we just came says “Reality.” If perhaps a bit clichéd, this humorous greeting conveys a meaningful truth. If you haven’t spent a week in this difficult to access place near the end of a long sand spit in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, you may underestimate the value of “serene.”
DeWayne, Sharon and Janet unload. Serenity sign.
The rising sun seems to emerge from behind the snow covered cone of Mt. Baker and soon may paint the white peaks of the Olympic Range in glowing hues. If the wind is calm, by around 6:00 AM you’re almost guaranteed to be greeted by Bald Eagles, mounted on driftwood snags peering intently into the calm water in search of breakfast. Alas, the eagles’ arrival will usually set-off the raucous cry of gulls—interrupting your peaceful dreams. Morning here seems almost magical and the early risers get to bask in it the longest, but no one really needs to be up (assuming he or she has closed the bedroom window to dampen the noise of gulls) until it’s time to raise The Flag with appropriate dignity at 8:00 AM.
Fair weather on a Spring, Summer or Fall weekend or holiday can generate surprisingly busy days at New Dungeness. We arrived around 10:00 AM on a recent Saturday and spent pretty much the rest of the day greeting couples, families, groups and the occasional solo trekker and providing tours of the 1857 lighthouse. By our 5:00 PM close we tallied 72 visitors—and excepting only one infant in a stroller and another transported on her father’s back—they all walked at least 5 ½ miles to get here and faced a return walk of the same distance.
Our neighbor. Fixing breakfast in the keeper's kitchen.
Our intrepid team of five keepers—Janet and Stu, Janet’s sister, Gail, and our friends, DeWayne and Sharon—is sharing our second weeklong tour at New Dungeness, and we’re already looking forward to a third before too long. Compatibility among keepers is an important ingredient in maximizing both enjoyment and serenity—thus we recommend choosing your fellow keepers rather than taking potluck.
Routine maintenance duties include cleaning the lighthouse and polishing the brass daily, cleaning and stocking the public restroom—assuming we’ve had some visitors—watering the lawn, mowing as needed, washing the lantern room glass inside and out, checking the sumps, patrolling the beach for and picking-up trash, completing the Keeper’s log every evening. Non-routine maintenance chores may be assigned time permitting and consistent with keepers’ skill level. This time DeWayne and Stu painted the metal railings on the lighthouse steps regulation glossy black.
New Dungeness Light Station and a red starfish found on the beach.
We gave from two to twenty or more tours each day, though climbed the 74 steps many more times to check for possible approaching visitors, to clean, or just to take a long look at our beguiling surroundings. We tended our chores, and during down times, worked to complete a "lighthouse" jigsaw puzzle, played billiards and darts in the basement, did laundry, played cards, read, cooked, ate very well and enjoyed some nice wine. In other words, we enjoyed our surroundings, each others’ company, and the serenity.
Too soon we were required to return to reality. We encourage all of you to try it some time. Happy Travels, Janet and Stu